The journey begins with just a single step .

50 Mistakes I Made While Screen Printing

I love art , I always admire people who can paint, draw, carve, sculpt, mould, do graphic design and take pictures really well. As a kid I always wanted to put art on my clothing and on my skin.

I used to draw on my skin with pens and markers. I started drawing Chinese characters on my skin when I was learning chinese but later learnt that it could harm my skin. 

Even after I was told that the inks can be harmful to my skin I continued, then took a break. I  eventually got a tattoo to satisfy the urge of skin art.

Then recenly I started to draw on my skin again. In order to  earn an income and fulfill my dream to publish my English Chinese book I decided to learn how to screen print and sell T-Shirts.


As a result of lack of experience I made the following errors.



1. I did not read a textbook about Screen Printing.


2. I did not watch or observe screen printers working at a printery.


3. I rushed in with too much anxiety.



4. I did not do research on inks, materials, prices, equipment and T-  shirts.



5. I did not mix the emulsion properly.



6. I did not use newspapers or cover my floor, resulting in dried emulsion stains on my floor.



7. I did not wear gloves while mixing emulsion, causing temporarily yellow hands.



8. I did not use a scoop coater to apply the emulsion to the screen.



9. I used silk instead of the recommended mesh to make the screens.



10. When I finally used mesh to make the screens, the mesh was too loose.



11. I selected the wrong mesh count for the job.



12. At one point I used foam stencils instead of vinyl or silk screen.



13. I did not properly coat the screens with emulsion.



14. After applying the emulsion I did not put the screen to lie face down to dry.



15. I applied too much emulsion to the screen.



16. I did not apply enough emulsion to the screen.



17. I did not use a glass to hold image onto screen while using sunlight for exposure.



18. At one point the glass I got was too short and too thin.



19. I got fish eyes on my screen.



20. I left the screen in the sunlight for a long period of time.



21. I did not allow the screen to remain in the sunlight long enough.



22. The image I printed on the film or paper was not sharp or black enough.



23. I thought that only film could be used for exposure and went all over the place sourcing it.



24. When I learnt the oil technique, too much oil went onto the screen.



25. I tried to use a regular house bulb for exposure when I couldn't get a 250 or 500 watt UV.



26. Bought supplies from an expensive store with 5 days return policy.



27. Didn't use heat gun or conveyor dryer to cure plastisol inks.



28. Did not use a squeegee while screen printing.



29. Didn't buy proper T-shirts.



30. Used expensive T-shirts to practice on.



31. I thought I had to use a power washer to wash screens.



32. I over-washed the screens.



33. Sometimes I didn't wash the screens properly to remove inks.



34. I didn't allow the emulsion to dry properly before exposing screens.



35. Left screen exposed to UV light unattended.



36. Didn't use a sturdy T-Shirt platen.



37. Didn't use a proper T-Shirt printing press.



38. Inadequate amount of pressure applied to screen while using a squeegee.



39. Insufficient ink on screen.



40. Allowed water ink to dry on screen, clogging the screen.



41. Selecting the wrong white ink for the job.



42. Not learning about discharge inks and their advantages.



43. Ink washed off garment.



44. Not properly covering discrepancies on the screen.



45. Not taping off screens to prevent ink  from running under while washing.



46. Not purchasing proper plastisol ink remover.



47. Did't wash or degrease screens before coating with emulsion.



48. I did not make a white base when using plastisol or waterbase inks on coloured shirts.



49. I did not ask for help from an expert.


50. I did not align the Tshirts properly on the Tshirt platen.

Fish Eyes- A result of oils (such as from fingers during handling)
which will repel liquid emulsion leaving small open areas.

These spots will invariably be
in an area of the screen that is difficult or impossible to touch up or fix later.

If you look closely at the screen you will notice that there are areas not coated properly with emulsion. If I had used a proper tool to coat the screen this could have been eliminated. Also do you notice that there is black ink on the screen as well as yellow?

This is because I did't wash the black ink off the screen properly before using another colour. The black ink has also clogged the screen preventing the yellow ink from being pushed through the mesh resulting in a pale yellow discoloured print.

Look again, you will see that there is no tape around the image or on the screen to prevent the ink from running under the frame while printing or washing the screen after using it.

Over-exposure- The screen was not exposed for the recommended amount of time, it was exposed long over the stipulated time causing excess UV light to harden the stencil.

As a result the image was burnt unto the screen but the screen was hard and I could't wash the image causing loss of detail. Also the image used for printing was not dense or sharp enough to produce a good replica onscreen.

Under-exposure- I didn't allow the screen to be exposed to the UV light long enough. As a result the emulsion that was not exposed was washed off easily along with the image.

There were some areas on the screen where parts of the image were missing because the emulsion was not exposed to the UV light long enough to burn the image onto the screen.

Rough Edges- This was my very first attempt at screen printing. Here I used a foam stencil with ink, then a screen "Love" was made with a vinyl stencil.

Errors include a poorly made silk screen, lack of definition and unsharpness of image print.

Poor Image Quality- I didn't align the T-Shirt properly. I didn't use a T-Shirt pallet. Additionally the screen was underexposed resulting in an unsharp image for printing.

Some of the artwork was washed away while washing the unexposed emulsion from the screen.

White Ink- Choosing the right white ink to work with was so hard. Here the image has a shadow because the screen shifted while i was printing.

Also the white ink was so thick, I tried my best to get it through the screen. Enough ink didn't go through some areas of the mesh and as a result there are pale areas on the shirt where ink should have been.

Here I was using high opaque white plastisol ink on a navy blue cotton T-shirt.

The Journey Continues